Citrus Creme Patissiere Croissants

Today is a special day at Garlic Head… we have a guest poster! I’d like to introduce my friend Lauren . She lives a gluten-free lifestyle and I’ve always admired her fun and delicious-looking photos on Instagram. When I saw this croissant recipe, I knew I had to ask for the recipe! It’s the perfect thing for a fancy holiday breakfast–or just a Tuesday morning 😍 If you are gluten free or if you are just looking for some tasty meal ideas, check out her site!

When you’re gluten free, (and especially if you’ve ever been not gluten free), sometimes all you really want is a fresh baked pastry. In D.C. and New York, there are plenty of options for gluten free baked good lovers, but after a recent trip to Portugal, I was set on re-creating the most amazing croissant I’ve ever tasted.
If you get a chance to go to Lisbon, Zarzuela is truly one of the best gluten free bakeries I’ve come across yet! They have options for everyone – from regular pastries (non gf), vegan, and of course gluten free. I went for breakfast literally all 3 days we were there, and came across this croissant with a cream filling that was one of the most delicious pastries I’ve ever had. Zarzuela offers baking classes, but unfortunately their recipe for this croissant – the Croissant com Massa Ovo – is top secret.

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After being back for several weeks, I was craving these croissants so badly I decided to give it a go. “Massa Ovo” roughly translates to “Egg Cream”, so I started googling for egg custard, egg pastry cream, and one other similar Portugese recipe for their famous “Pastel de Natas”. All I knew was that I definitely tasted some orange flavor in this custard-y cream, and eventually, I combined a few recipes for the filling based on a recipe for creme patissiere. For the croissant recipe, I used one of my favorites from Gluten Free on a Shoestring.


To preface – if you decide to make the croissants, it really does take a whole day. I tried to rush the proof time, and naturally, my croissants didn’t rise quite as much as they should have, but they were definitely still delicious. The filling can be made at anytime during the croissant making process, or can be made in advance and refrigerated.


Citrus Creme Patissiere


250g Milk (about 1.3cups)

80g Sugar (6.4 Tablespoons)

3 slices of lemon peel

Zest of 1 orange

1 Tablespoon of Vanilla Extract

10g Gluten Free Flour (I used Cup4Cup) (1.1 Tablespoons)

20g Corn starch (2.7 Tablespoons)

3 egg yolks


  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together egg yolks and sugar just until pale yellow and creamy, then whisk in cornstarch and flour. Set aside.


  1. In a medium saucepan, heat milk, vanilla, lemon peel and orange zest over medium heat, just to a boil. Remove from heat and strain over a bowl to remove orange zest peels and lemon peels.


  1. Gradually pour the hot milk into the egg mixture while simultaneously whisking constantly until smooth.


  1. Transfer mixture back into saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat, whisking constantly and vigorously so that the eggs won’t curdle, until mixture thickens (about 10 minutes). Remove from heat and transfer to a medium glass bowl. Press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the pudding to prevent it from creating a “skin”. Let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until chilled.


  1. Creme patissiere can be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 7 days. Whisk before using to get rid of any lumps.


Gluten Free Croissants


Recipe here: Gluten Free on a Shoestring


A few things worth mentioning – I used Cup4Cup Gluten Free Flour in this recipe as well, but needed to add a little bit of extra milk, because my dough was way too crumbly and dry.


Also, give yourself more time then you need! These really aren’t too hard to make, but do take a lot of time between turns.


And lastly, now that you’ve put all this time into making them, don’t rush the proofing process like I did 😉


To fill the Croissants:

I certainly haven’t mastered this 100% yet, again because my croissants didn’t turn out quite as big and fluffy as they were supposed to. The approach I tried was to use a pastry bag with a frosting tip, and insert the frosting tip in between where the layers are rolled. Repeat several times inside of each layer to fill the croissants. If yours are too small like mine, you could also try slicing them in half similarly to a cream puff, and sandwich your filling inside them.


I hope at some point you get to go to Lisbon and enjoy this amazing bakery, but until then I hope you like this recipe for Citrus Creme Patissiere Croissants!

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